As an avid traveler, I sometimes find myself wandering the Internet world and reading travel articles. Even though I don’t have plans and I’m short on money after the last trip, it’s still interesting to understand the world through the locals or first-hand experience, although I’ve found that capital cities are always the weakest part of any trip.
I came across a hundred posts telling me that visiting the nation’s capital is a waste of time and not even worth a day.
In general, it is clear that there is not much to see there, except the luxury of skyscrapers or the busy city traffic. While this is the case in most parts of the world, it is definitely different when it comes to visiting Cairo, Egypt.
MAGIC OF CAIRO, EGYPT
Thanks to its diverse culture, Cairo offers a huge package that a two-day visit can’t fit into unless you’re tight, and that doesn’t do it justice.
Having lived in this city for a quarter of a century, I can confidently say that almost every day is an adventure that takes you back in time. From mosques and churches, synagogues, nice Egyptian markets, royal palaces to museums. Not to mention authentic Egyptian cuisine.
Since I’m never bored wandering around Cairo, here’s a list of fun stops I’ve compiled for you to visit, especially if you have a passion for photography or just want to experience the real atmosphere.
THE CITADEL OF SALAH AL-DIN AL-AYYUB
Located in the Old City of Cairo and atop the Al Mukattam Hills overlooking the entire city, Mount Citadel was built by Sultan Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (572-579 AH / 1176-1183 AD).
Despite Egypt’s powerful aura at the time, it did not fare well without the walls of a protective citadel, and although the cities of the Levant – such as Aleppo and Damascus – took this step long ago, it was also thanks to the Egyptians.
Wandering along the massive walls of this fort, you will undoubtedly feel the touch of the past. In the credits of the construction site, one of the highest points in Cairo, you can feel its power.
The fort contains many interesting places that offer you different options, making it a lot for a day visit but still versatile.
These sites include some of Cairo’s prominent landmarks such as Masjid Muhammad Ali Pasha, Sulayman Pasha al-Khadim Masjid from the Ottoman era. A few other museums like the Police Museum, Royal Vehicles Museum and Military Museum can also be ticked off your list.
The fortress is allowed daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but foreign travelers are charged different entrance fees.
MOHAMMED ALI Pasha Mosque
This amazing mosque is an absolute favorite, everything is so big and vast that I highly doubt you will experience anything but an approaching grace. Everything is made of marble, huge pillars and beautiful carpets, a photographer’s paradise.
Decorated with intricate details, the ceiling hangs in circles with hundreds of matching lanterns. The outdoor area is equally beautiful, it is fully tiled with white marble panels and the sunset inside is a once in a lifetime experience.
The alabaster mosque was built by none other than Muhammad Ali Pasha, one of the most significant contributions to the Salah al-Din al-Ayyub fortress. The mosque has a double minaret, which is considered the tallest in all of Egypt.
In the open courtyard of the mosque is a copper bell tower donated by Louis Philippe of France in 1262 AH / 1845 AD. And Muhammad Ali responded to this gesture with an obelisk of Ramses II displayed in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
You can visit the mosque completely free of charge every day from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. However, remember to wear traditional clothing to enter. Usually, women cover themselves from head to toe when visiting mosques.
MOHAMMED ALI PALACE
During his 43-year reign, Muhammad Ali’s time had a great impact on the welfare of the state and the power of the country. And of course, the sultan usually comes with his own palace, no less than an exuberant mishmash of multicultural styles.
It is located in Al-Manial and has a huge significance due to its architectural atmosphere. Composed in an Islamic style, it blends well with the vibrancy of Mamluk and Persian features and the influences of Andalusian, Syrian and Moroccan motifs.
The palace has a bell tower, a reception hall, a throne room, a hunting museum and much more to offer for a good day.
Different styles were a new experience for me, more precisely overwhelming. I can confidently say that it was like stepping into another world and experiencing different cultures at the same time. The sense of opulence and grandeur of this palace is like no other.
Opening hours are 9:00-15:00, but please note that the ticket office issues the last ticket at 14:15 and there are different ticket prices for foreign visitors.
In the bustling Khan Al-Khalil neighborhood of Cairo’s Old City, there are many tourists almost every hour. This part of Cairo is recognized as one of Egypt’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The history of Khan al-Khalil dates back to the 15th century, the then squire Jaharkas El Khalili built a caravanserai (popularly called Khan) which initially housed merchants, and over the years other sultans took part in the area and added their own khans. , completing the puzzle and settling the area which later became a trading center in the late 15th century.
Think of Khan el-Khalil as a labyrinth of all things mystical and strange, you can go in circles and discover new things every time you turn. From gold jewelry and silver pendants of replica pharaohs to mosaic lanterns and numerous small souvenirs, you’ll find a wide variety of items in a wide price range.
It’s the best place to feel the real atmosphere of Cairo, at least in my opinion, the noise and crowd is something you can never escape, but an attractive experience.
Lots of colors and music everywhere, the smell of coffee in the air and the sound of hookahs make for the best market day.
While you’re there, this is definitely the place to practice your negotiating and haggling skills, and may I add, relentlessly. At the end of the day you always get a good offer.
THE RELIGIOUS COMPLEX OF CAIRO
If you are looking for a place with three monotheistic religions, look no further than the Cairo Religious Complex. Thanks to the Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque, the Hanging Church and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, it has just acquired its significance.
The second mosque built in Egypt, whose construction dates back to 21 AH, the Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque is recognized as the largest and oldest mosque in Africa. At the time of its construction, it was built mainly of palm trunks, bricks and gravel, later transformed into marble columns and slabs.
The Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque is open to visitors throughout the week with no specific hours, but it is best visited early in the morning.
The Hanging Church was built on top of the Roman fortress of Babylon and dominates most of the surrounding buildings, hence its name.
Throughout history it has been the seat of many patriarchs, with Patriarch Christozoulos transforming the Hanging Church into the seat of the Pope of Alexandria. It was also recognized as the place where the Holy Family received protection from Herod, king of Palestine.
The introduction to the Hanging Church is free for all visitors.
TRIP TO CAIRO
While Islam and Christianity were represented in this region, Judaism also had its representation. Ben Ezra Synagogue is one of the oldest Jewish temples in Egypt.
Its significance comes from some stories where it is believed to contain the basket in which the Prophet Moses was placed, and it was also where the Prophet Moses prayed to God when the plague struck Egypt. The temple is named after Abraham bin Ezra, the head of the Jewish community.
The religious complex does not stop there, although it includes these fascinating places, it also has the Coptic Museum, Abi Sarjah Church, St. Margirus Monastery and St. Barbara Church.
This way you barely scratch the surface of what Cairo has to offer and to see all there is, you visit a whole book of everything. I would like to say this that Cairo certainly deserves much more than just two days of flying.